Author Archives: Brendan Holba
Corey Ray has been demolishing the pitching in AA this year. He is either the leading hitter or in the top 3 for most major offensive categories and just needs 5 more home runs to reach the 30, 30, 30 club. The Chicago native plays outfield which is a logjam in the Brewers organization, especially after the guys they added at the big league club this past offseason.
I have been on vacation for the last week and a lot has happened since the last update at the end of July. Adam Duvall was traded to the Braves, Kyle Funkhouser had surgery that has ended his season, Will Smith was promoted to AAA, Corey Ray continues to have an incredible season, and Adam Engel has made home run robbing catches in back to back nights against the Yankees.
Corey Ray is currently the only player in the Southern League who has 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. That is a feat that is not easily accomplished and done by guys who become future big leaguers and MLB All-Stars. At this point, Ray is on pace to join the 30,30,30 club. Will Smith continues to mash at AA and we could see him moving up to AAA soon for the Dodgers.
The Yankees traded 3 prospects to the Orioles for closer Zach Britton. Included in that trade was Josh Rogers who has pitched well this season for the Yankees AAA club. Nick Burdi has begun a rehab assignment with the Altoona Curve and is looking strong so far. Blake Tiberi has been promoted to A Advanced St. Lucie Mets.
Will Smith is on absolute fire right now for the Tulsa Drillers. He hit .378 with 17 total hits in 11 games, 6 games included multiple hits. Kyle Funkhouser was promoted this week to AAA in the Detroit Tigers organization and if he continues his surge of great performances on the mound he may be on the Tigers Roster in September.
Corey Ray is going nuts right now for Biloxi as he hit 4 home runs, had 12 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases. Logan Taylor was signed by the Reds on July 12th. Devin Hairston is currently on an 11 game hitting streak for Carolina.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 7/2-7/16/2018
Chad Green was perfect for the Yankees this week in a couple of appearances as he continues to be brilliant out of the bullpen. Adam Engel is looking strong at the plate for the South Siders hitting .386 with 3 doubles this week; the White Sox and Engel matchup against Adam Duvall and the Reds over the holiday.
Kyle Funkhouser was an Eastern League All-Star for the Erie SeaWolves in the Detroit Tigers organization and completed a dominant month of June. Nick Burdi has begun rehab throwing in Florida where the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training home is located. Drew Ellis hit .381 with 5 doubles, and 7 RBI’s for the Diamondback’s A Advanced club this week.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 6/26-7/2/2018
For the Chicago White Sox, Adam Engel is on a 4 game hitting streak. Corey Ray and Nick Solak squared off against each other this week in the Southern League All-Star game, while Will Smith had a monster week at the plate with 4 home runs in 4 consecutive games. Lincoln Henzman earned a promotion from the White Sox and is now pitching for the Winston-Salem Dash.
Devin Hairston was also promoted this week by the Brewers to the Carolina Mudcats in the Carolina League with Henzman. At High A, Drew Ellis is currently riding a 5 game hitting streaks since returning from the All-Star break.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 6/19-6/25/2018
Adam Duvall had his best week of the year with 8 hits in 7 games, including 3 doubles, 1 home run and 5 RBI’s for a Reds team that is playing great baseball right now. After hitting .364 this week, Duvall has brought his season average up to .203 to go along with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, 43 RBI’s and 24 runs scored.
Adam Engel is riding a 4 game hitting streak with 4 hits in his last 4 games, with 1 double, 2 RBI’s and a stolen base. Last year strikeouts plagued Engel’s first season in the bigs but so far this year he has been a much more disciplined hitter and only has 58 strikeouts in 204 At Bats.
Chad Green struck out 6 batters in 2 appearances this week in 3 innings. In his first outing, he went 1 inning, struck out 2 and gave up 2 hits. His second time out he went 2 tremendous innings, striking out 4 and not allowing a base runner. June is not over yet but to this point, Green has 15 strikeouts in 10.1 innings and has yet to give up a run.
Nick Burdi was placed on the 60-day Disabled List by the Pittsburgh Pirates at the beginning of the season.
Matt Koch was sent down to AAA on June 20th and made one start on the 24th. He went deep into the 7th inning striking out 3 and giving up 2 runs in his start this week for Reno.
Kyle McGrath pitched twice this week and did not allow a run in 2.1 innings for the Chihuahuas. It appears that McGrath is getting back in a groove and may find himself back with the Padres in the near future. In 22 games he has totaled 28 strikeouts in 27 innings and in his last 11 appearances has not allowed a run which has helped lower his season ERA to a modest 3.33.
Josh Rogers started twice this week and did not factor into either decision despite going 6 strong innings both times. His two starts were nearly identical, both against Lehigh Valley, one home and one on the road, and in both, he allowed 2 runs. After a couple of rough starts at the beginning of June, Rogers has finished the month on a high note and is now 6-5 with an ERA of 3.32, a WHIP of 1.28 to go along with 71 strikeouts in 86.2 innings.
Cole Sturgeon had 1 hit in 3 games this week that knocked in a run. On the season he is hitting .290/.355/.444, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs, 29 RBI’s, and 29 Runs scored between AA and AAA.
Dean Kiekhefer struck out 3 in 2 innings during his long outing this week for Oakland’s Nashville Sounds, which was a good bounce back from the way last week ended.
Chris Dominguez recorded 2 hits in 4 games as his whoos continue this season. For Syracuse, Dominguez is batting .178/.225/.308 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs, 10 RBI’s and 10 Runs scored.
Zack Burdi is starting this season on the Disabled List as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery.
Jeff Arnold did not have a hit despite playing in 3 games for Richmond. Coming into this week, Arnold was riding a 4 game hitting streak that included 2 multi-hit games. At AA this year he has 3 doubles, 1 home run, 5 RBI’s and 5 Runs scored.
Derek Self did not allow a run in 2 appearances for Harrisburg where he totaled 3 innings and 3 strikeouts, all three of those coming in the 2.2 innings he pitched the first time out. After 23 games, Self has 25 strikeouts in 28 innings and a 2.89 ERA to go along with a 1.04 WHIP.
Kyle Funkhouser took the loss this week even though he struck out 6 in 4.2 innings and only gave up 2 runs. The month of June has been a really good one for him as he is 4-1 in 5 starts with 28 strikeouts in 22.2 innings for the Erie SeaWolves.
Nick Solak had 4 hits and 4 stolen bases to start the second half of the season after playing in the All-Star game early in the week. 69 games into his 2nd full season of professional baseball, Solak has 14 stolen bases, 50 Runs Scored, 11 doubles, 2 triples, 10 Home Runs, 44 RBI’s and is slashing .292/.399/.462.
Corey Ray squared off against Solak early in the week in the Southern League All-Star game but only has 2 hits in 4 games since the break. Ray has 20 doubles, 5 triples, 9 home runs, 31 RBI’s, 43 Runs Scored, 18 stolen bases while hitting .245/.340/.441.
Will Smith had a very powerful week and was named to the MiLB Pipeline team of the week after 4 consecutive games with a home run for Tulsa. Since coming off the DL at the beginning of the month, Smith has 2 doubles, 7 home runs, and 13 RBI’s and is really hitting his stride as the first half of the Texas League winds down.
Grant Kay was placed on the 7 day DL at the start of the season.
Jared Ruxer was released on 5/23 by the Kansas City Royals
Joe Filomeno was released on 4/23 by the Texas Rangers.
Drew Ellis totaled 8 hits and is currently on a 5 game hitting streak since returning from the California League All-Star Break. During this streak, Ellis has 3 multi-hit games, 2 doubles, 1 home run, and 3 RBI’s. After 66 games this year, Ellis is hitting .263/.343/.461 with 21 doubles, 9 home runs, 43 RBI’s and 32 Runs Scored. With numbers like that, I’m not sure how Ellis was left off of an All-Star game roster this year.
Lincoln Henzman was promoted to the Winston-Salem Dash on June 21st and since that promotion has pitched once, going 1 inning and giving up 1 earned run. Unlike his first 13 games this season, Henzman came on in relief for his A-Advanced debut.
Devin Hairston was also promoted to the Carolina Mudcats on June 21st and has 2 hits in 3 games since his promotion. Before he was moved up, Hairston had batted .218/.349/.266 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 12 RBI’s, 18 Runs Scored and 2 stolen bases.
Jeff Thompson pitched twice this week, totaling 1 strikeout in 3 innings, while only giving up 1 earned run. Since being moved down to Lakeland, Thompson has 3 strikeouts in 6.1 innings, a 9.95 ERA and a WHIP of 2.53.
Brendan McKay was placed on the 7 Day Disabled List this week.
Blake Tiberi collected 5 hits in 5 games this week including back to back games with a jack as he rides a 5 game hitting streak coming out of the South Atlantic League All-Star Break. Tiberi has 9 doubles, 3 home runs, 18 RBI’s, 41 runs scored, 3 stolen bases while averaging .246/.377/.325.
Colby Fitch hit safely in 3 of 4 games for the BlueClaws. 36 games into this season, Fitch is averaging .256/.356/.424 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs, 16 RBI’s, and 22 runs scored.
Drew Harrington was released by the Atlanta Braves on June 9th but signed by the Chicago White Sox on June 18th and pitched once for Kannapolis going 2.1 innings, striking out 2 while only giving up 1 hit.
Devin Mann was assigned to the Great Lakes Loons and 7 games into his professional career is hitting .318/.360/.318 with 2 RBI’s, 2 stolen bases and 1 run scored.
Kade McClure was placed on the 7 day DL on May 14th.
Dace Kime retired from professional baseball on June 16th.
A Short Season
Josh Stowers is playing with the Everett AquaSox and already has 2 doubles, 1 home run, 4 RBI’s, 2 stolen bases, and 3 runs scored while slashing .308/.438/.692 through 4 games.
Adam Wolf has started one game going 3 innings, striking out 2 and not allowing a run pitching for the GCL Tigers.
Liam Jenkins has thrown 1 inning, struck out 1 batter and surrendered 1 run so far in his professional career with the AZL Indians.
Austin Conway has pitched twice, totaling 3 innings with 3 strikeouts, in relief for the AZL White Sox.
Logan Taylor was released on June 2nd by the Chicago White Sox.
2018 Draft Picks
*Josh Stowers was selected in the 2nd round, 54th overall, to the Seattle Mariners.
*Adam Wolf was drafted by the Detroit Tigers at 135 overall, in the 5th round.
*Devin Mann was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers, 164th overall, in the 5th round.
Riley Thompson was taken in the 11th round by the Chicago Cubs with pick number 338.
*Sam Bordner was drafted by the Miami Marlins, 477 overall in the 16th round.
*Liam Jenkins was drafted in the 17th round, 523 overall, by the Cleveland Indians.
*Austin Conway was taken 918 overall in the 31st round by the Chicago White Sox.
Bryan Hoeing was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 36th round, 1066 overall.
* players who have signed professional contracts
Kyle Funkhouser continues to dominate on the mound with 2 scoreless starts this week for the Erie Seawolves and he is really starting to look like one of the top prospects in the Tigers organization. Matt Koch records another win after a quality start against the Mets in the desert. Lincoln Henzman dominates in 2 starts and is looking like he could be up for a promotion soon as well.
Nick Solak has a huge week for the Montgomery Biscuits, hitting 3 home runs and knocking in 8. Kyle Funkhouser was stellar again on the mound and seems to be hitting his stride in AA. Corey Ray had a powerful week in Biloxi with 4 doubles and a home run to go along with 6 RBI’s. Lincoln Henzman dominated again with Kannapolis, striking out 6 in his most recent start.
The draft concluded last week and the Cardinals who were drafted between the 3 days are listed below. If and when they all sign and what levels they are assigned to as the summer progresses will continue to be updated in the coming weeks. If any of these guys are contemplating on whether or not they want to return to the Ville they will have until the middle of July.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 6/5-6/11/2018
This is a big week for baseball teams all over the country, from high school up to the Big Leagues. The week of the first year player draft is always a time of hope for the future as well as a celebration of individuals and all of their hard work that propelled them to this moment. This year only saw one Card taken on day 1. Josh Stowers went 54th overall to the Seattle Mariners. With 40 rounds in total there are a few more current Cards expected to be taken in the next couple of days and as their professional careers unfold we will be here to tell their stories.
Baseball and Memorial Day go hand in hand, just like hot dogs and apple pie and fireworks. This is one of the best baseball weekends there are during the season. College baseball tournament championships are in full force, and on Memorial Day the field of 64 is set.
Congrats to the Cardinals on their 2 seed in the Lubbock regional. In the Big Leagues, each team is equipped with special uniforms and many guys are wearing custom cleats supporting the troops. Adam Engel has had a great week with multiple hits for the White Sox, including his first long ball of the season. Former Dodgers first-round pick, Kyle Funkhouser has been sharp the last 3 weeks and looks like former All American and Collegiate National Team self.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 5/22-5/27/2018
Corey Ray was on an absolute tear this week mashing home runs at an astonishing rate. At one point this week he had homered 4 times in 3 games for the Biloxi Shuckers. It has happened, Cole Sturgeon was promoted this past week to AAA and is now playing with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Dean Kiekhefer was promoted to the Nashville Sound on the 19th and has continued to pitch well for the Oakland A’s since they signed him back on May 3rd. I know this has been heard for years now but Brendan McKay is putting up absolutely absurd numbers this season in the Rays farm system, he is certainly on the fast track to the Big Leagues at this pace.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 5/14-5/21/2018
The time has come for Brendan McKay to continue his ascent towards Tampa. The Rays #3 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was promoted to the A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League on Monday 5/14/2018. There is the opportunity for a University of Louisville baseball reunion in the Rays organization at the AA level with the Montgomery Biscuits already having Grant Kay and Nick Solak on the roster.
Another promotion included Indianapolis native Jared Ruxer to AA this week and is now pitches for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. A different type of move involved Drew Harrington moving out of the bullpen and back into a starting role where he has put together two solid starts.
Statistics are from 4/30-5/6/2018
What a weekend! The Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, while wet and soggy in Kentucky, were still a good time. Matt Koch has done something that hasn’t been done in 71 years, out dueling both Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw in consecutive starts. Brendan McKay was incredible as well after he went 4.2 innings of hitless baseball on the mound and the next day driving in 5 RBI’s at the plate.
Oldham County’s very own Dean Kiekhefer was signed by the Oakland Athletics after being released by the Cincinnati Reds last week and was assigned to their AA team. Also at the AA level, Cole Sturgeon continues to dominate the competition putting up MVP type of numbers. For the Montgomery Biscuits, Nick Solak is currently on a 6 game hitting streak.
Matt Koch has continued to pitch well for the surging Arizona Diamondbacks who have not lost a series yet this season. In his second consecutive start in the Big Leagues, Koch picked up the win and 4 strikeouts in another 6 inning start. Josh Rogers is continuing to dominate as he goes 7 innings of 2 hit baseball for Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Cole Sturgeon in the Red Sox organization is on fire at the plate.
Lincoln Henzman has settled into the starting role nicely for the Kannapolis Intimidators, and Brendan McKay is continuing to be an incredible baseball player, both on the mound and at the plate.
Statistics are from 4/22-4/29
There were a couple of movers this week in the ranks as Matt Koch went up to the Big Leagues and started a game for the Arizona Diamondbacks twirling 6 solid innings of 2 hit baseball.
Male High School’s very own, Jeff Arnold was moved all the way up from A (advanced) to AAA in the Giants organization. While the jury is still out on how the Tampa Bay Rays will utilize Brendan McKay at the Major League Level last years 4th overall pick is continuing to impress in the Midwest League. If you live in Bowling Green or can get there you should watch him play for the Hot Rods before his inevitable move up the minor league latter occurs. Kade McClure continues to be the definition of consistency as he picked up 2 more wins this week with the Kannapolis Intimidators.
It’s cold in the Midwest and New England, and probably a lot of places that it shouldn’t be on April 16th. It’s hard to tell by the look of things outside but we are in fact about a month into Spring. The old saying goes April showers bring May flowers; I wonder what April snow brings? Regardless of the weather, some of the Cardinal 9 Alumni are heating up.
The baseball season is officially upon us. Even though it is snowing in parts of the country and the Chicago Cubs home opener was postponed because of the snow, baseball is back!
The Major Leagues have been back for over a week now and in the last few days the different levels of the Minor Leagues have kick started their seasons as well. Within the first week of the 2018 season five Cardinal 9 alumni were on Major League rosters and contributing to their teams. As the season continues look for more and more to make their way to the show as 12 others have begun this season in either AA or AAA.
At the A level Blake Tiberi is back from injury and dominating the pitching in the early going and arguably the best college baseball player ever, Brendan McKay, is back and doing Brendan McKay things. Since the 2007 season the University of Louisville baseball team has become a collegiate juggernaut with an impressive pipeline into the professional ranks. Kudos to Coach Mac and his staff, along with the hard work and determination of these individuals.
Opening Day 2018 is now upon us. In my opinion, it should be a national holiday; baseball is, after all, America’s past time. A lot of football fans may debate me on that and my argument would be to simply quote James Earl Jones’ monologue in “Field of Dreams.” The game is a symbol of who we are deep down. Until the final, out is made everyone is given their due. There is no taking a knee to run out the clock in baseball. This year on Opening Day there will be a few more Cardinal 9 Alumni gracing the diamond than there were at this time last year. A testament to the tremendous job Coach Mac has done and the outstanding work these guys have put in on their own.
This week’s alumni spotlight shines on Cherokee, Iowa native Cody Ege. During his freshman year, Ege was cutting his teeth both in the outfield and on the mound as a two-way player, eventually making a full-time move to the bullpen. He was not a major contributor during his first two years at Louisville and his future seemed uncertain. However, that all changed in the summer between his sophomore and junior years.
At the midway point in this years, Major League Spring Training the transactions between the big league clubs and their minor league affiliates have begun in earnest as front offices and coaching staffs whittle down their spring training squads to the 25 man Opening Day rosters. At this point, there are still multiple Cardinal 9 Alumni vying for that opening day spot.
While there are many Cardinal 9 Alumni in the professional ranks, a handful of others are beginning to grow the coaching tree at the collegiate and high school levels. One, in particular, is Aaron Gershenfeld who serves as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at The Citadel. I had the pleasure of serving alongside Gersh for 3 great years before we both began our coaching adventures. Within the first minutes of meeting him, it was apparent that Gersh defined what it means to be a baseball guy. The man eats, sleeps and breathes the game. During the few times, we worked the offseason camps at UofL together, I was witness to the development of a great teacher of the game of baseball. That passion and ability to instruct hitters has led to tremendous success in his young coaching career. Gersh has worked with hitters at The Citadel, East Tennessee State, and Vanderbilt, with his teams putting up tremendous offensive numbers at each stop.